The Chinese language uses two characters to form the word crisis: one means danger, the other opportunity. A crisis can blindside you, bringing pain and added hurt; or it can provide an opportunity, leading you to a new adventure and a new season. The outcome is dependent on your response.
Here are four choices that confront you in a crisis.
1. You can give up or go on.
Choose to go on. Persevere. It’s the ability to hang on when it would have been easier to let go. Persistence jumps to the forefront for those people who survive a crisis. Persistence is the key that keeps us from giving up and letting go.
The dictionary defines perseverance as “the power of going on in spite of difficulties.” Popular colloquial phrases describe it as: “Keep on keeping on.” “Hang in there.” “Put up with it.” “Stick-to-itiveness.” “Don’t quit.” Its synonyms are determination, endurance, tenacity, plodding, stamina, and backbone.
So don’t quit. Never give up. Keep going. Hold on. It has been said, “Life is like reading a book. It begins to make sense when we near the end.” Perseverance maintains the stamina needed to endure the pains and hardships of life. So hold on, hang in there, don’t quit.
2. You can retreat to the past or move forward into the future.
Choose to move forward. Crisis by their very nature is frightening and depressing. We tend to retreat to the past—what is familiar, what is comfortable, what is known. Don’t do it. Move forward. Faith is required in moving forward. To move past the dangers to meet the opportunities of a new day, to move ahead in life, to grow, always requires faith. As we move forward on faith that the unknown becomes known, that the darkness becomes light, that the night becomes day. Moving forward in faith is like walking toward an eye-opening electric door. The door only opens as we move forward toward it.
Facing a crisis often feels as though the rug of your life has been pulled out from under you. But remember that if the carpet has been pulled out, God is under the rug. He will catch you, support you, encourage you, and soften the blow of the fall. You can count on him for that. He can be trusted. Oswald Chambers wrote: “It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been. Base all on your relationship with God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was.”
3. You can withdraw from people or connect with people.
Choose to connect with people. Too often when faced with a crisis the human tendency is to isolate ourselves from others, going into hiding. We need to communicate to others for help, support, encouragement, and strength.
The connection is at the heart of religious experience. Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of sociology, spent years in the South Sea Islands studying the religion of primitive natives to discover what religion was like before it was formalized with prayer books and professional clergy. In 1912, he published his influential book, Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, in which he suggested that “The primary purpose of religion at its earliest level was not to put people in touch with God, but to put them in touch with one another.”
Crises are a time to connect with others, not to withdraw.
4. You can fear the future or trust the Savior.
Choose to trust the Savior. Fear is very much a part of a crisis. Fear is a God-given emotion. If anxiety is out of control, it is the most paralyzing emotion of all. Fear makes a person doubt their abilities and paralyzes the free use of their talents. It brings on “cold feet,” makes one a “chicken,” and eats away at one’s “guts.” Fear causes one to miss a sure two-foot putt, a free throw in the closing seconds of a game, a promising opportunity for financial gain, a friendship that could last a lifetime. Fear motivates us to make more money, “just in case;” to always have the resume out, “you never know;” and to look over your shoulder, “you can’t trust anyone.”
In the ancient Greek language, the word for fear meant flight. It’s the picture of pheasants being flushed from their nesting areas and flying because they have been frightened by the approaching danger of a hunter. It is the soldier in battle fleeing the enemy when being shot. “Did you hear those bullets?” asked one soldier to another. “Twice,” he said, “once when they went past me and once when I passed them.”
While fear is present when facing a crisis, it does not have to paralyze us.
An antidote for fear exists. One faces their concern with fact. God says that we do not have to fear because his presence accompanies us through the crisis events of life. God is saying that we can walk through a crisis because he walks with us